It’s no surprise that the Cubs are in the lefty reliever market (we’ve discussed it often, and it’ll keep coming up), and we also know they’d like to add a veteran, professional-hitter-type of position player.
But would they ideally like a leadoff hitter?
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) July 14, 2019
Bruce Levine reports that the Royals are not (realistically) shopping second baseman Whit Merrifield, so as much as you might like to see him atop the Cubs’ lineup in the second half, it’s probably not worth getting too hyped about. The price tag, per Levine, is three MLB-ready players, which sure, the Cubs theoretically have and could part with, but I’m not sure I see the Royals taking something like Ian Happ, Addison Russell, and Adbert Alzolay (assuming the Cubs tried to make something like that happen – the names are offered only for example).
Instead, the realistically available top-of-the-order types, per Levine: “More realistic targets who project to be available are Blue Jays infielder Eric Sogard, Blue Jays infielder Freddy Galvis and Mariners infielder Dee Gordon.”
The problem there shouldn’t be too hard to spot. We’ve already talked about Sogard as a maybe-could-be-semi-interest-get-for-cheap type, and he might not be enough of an upgrade at second base in the second half to be worth the cost. And then with Galvis and Gordon, you’re talking about hitters … who don’t actually hit. They’re fine pieces in certain limited roles on a playoff team, but they’re hardly the type of bat we’re talking about wanting to see the Cubs add – leadoff or otherwise.
Ultimately, with Robel Garcia, Addison Russell, David Bote, Daniel Descalso, and Ian Happ all potentially available at second base, and with Ben Zobrist returning perhaps in September, I don’t really see the point in adding another “yeah, maybe” option at second base. If it’s not going to be an obviously useful, steady veteran bat, then I’d say look to the outfield to make an addition, rather than second base.
As for the leadoff aspect, I mean, sure, it would be nice to get a guy up there who could consistently get on base at a .360 clip. I think there’s a lot to like about Kyle Schwarber, but he remains miscast as a leadoff hitter. I could make an argument that the Cubs do have better options (jokes aside, I kinda do like Anthony Rizzo up there, among this group), but it’s not such a stark difference that I can really rip them for going with Schwarber. There just isn’t that obvious leadoff hitter in this group.
… but that’s been the case for three years now, and they find ways to make it work, so long as the rest of the offense is clicking. So if a useable leadoff hitter becomes available in the outfield (or a clear upgrade at second base), then cool, go for it. But if that doesn’t happen, I’d much rather see the Cubs just add another quality bat, regardless of role.